Indebted Vikings’ 1st-Round Trade Was About More Than Football, Columnist Proposes

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O'Connell

Getty The Vikings announced the death of legendary coach Bud Grant on Saturday, March 11, 2023.

The Minnesota Vikings had the consensus best defensive tackle, safety and arguably the best receiver in this year’s draft class available with the 12th pick in hand.

Instead, they opted to move down from the spot, swapping with the Detroit Lions for the final pick in the first round and additional draft capital.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah expressed his excitement in selecting Lewis Cine No. 32 overall as the third safety taken in the draft. However, passing on Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton is one of several critiques surrounding the trade down.

Pioneer Press reporter Charley Walters considered a theory that the Vikings’ first-round trade down wasn’t merely about getting more picks.

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Vikings Drafting on a Budget?

First-round rookie contracts are lucrative, and they scale down significantly after the first dozen picks.

Bearing that in mind, Walters raised a theory in his Sunday column following the draft that Minnesota’s trade down could have been informed by the team’s finances as well.

From Walters:

Every NFL team has a budget. One curious theory as to why the Vikings on Thursday night traded their No. 12 pick in the first round of the draft for the No. 32 pick is to save money.

One estimate is that the Vikings owe fired coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman a total of nearly $20 million over the next two years.

The signing bonus for the No. 12 pick, wide receiver Jameson Williams from Alabama taken by Detroit, will be in the $10 million range. The signing bonus for Lewis Cine, the safety from Georgia the Vikings chose at No. 32, will be about $5.5 million.

The Vikings’ decision to extend Spielman and Zimmer in 2020 has come back to bite them with the franchise deciding to move on prematurely. Executive and coach contracts are often guaranteed, leaving Minnesota on the hook for the remainder of the deals.

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BR: Vikings Trade With Lions Among Draft’s ‘Best Moves’

While the Vikings’ trade down with the Lions was met with critique from fans looking for a splashier first move by the new regime under Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, it has also earned praise around the league.

Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton listed the move among the seven best in the draft.

Despite the decision to not gamble and see the potential high payout from the 12th pick, Wharton penned the trade down as the “boldest” trade in the first round.

“The Vikings made the boldest trade down in the first round after the Detroit Lions called,” Wharton wrote. “Cine is the primary prize from this class. He was a late riser in the draft process but offers many of the same skills as the safety Minnesota passed up by trading down: Kyle Hamilton. The two safeties will forever be linked as their careers unfold.”

Adofo-Mensah leveraged the additional picks from the trade into landing three more top-70 selections in Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (42nd pick), LSU guard Ed Ingram (59th pick) and Oklahoma linebacker Brian Asamoah (66th pick). His savviness played to the rebuild the new regime has touted this offseason with the intent of remaining competitive and finding talent that can contribute right away.

“Adofo-Mensah inherited a good Vikings team that needed to overhaul several defensive positions with youth,” Wharton added. “He accomplished that with this draft, and the Vikings will benefit in 2022 and beyond.”

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